Page 1903 - Week 06 - Thursday, 9 June 2022

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At the same time, the ACT government announced the establishment of a steering committee to focus on the prevention of and response to sexual violence in the ACT, as well as related law reform. The steering committee was tasked with setting key priorities for future work by the government to drive this reform in the ACT. An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consultation committee; three working groups focused on prevention, response and law reform; and a workplace reference group were also established to make recommendations to the steering committee.

The steering committee completed its report to government in December 2021. Today I am pleased to be tabling this report, titled Listen. Take Action to Prevent, Believe and Heal, along with the ACT government response to the report. The report made 24 recommendations to government to improve how we prevent and respond to sexual violence in our community. These recommendations cover a broad range of themes, including a long-term prevention strategy, an ongoing consultation program with victim-survivors, and improvements to the integration, collaboration and case management coordination between specialist response services. There are also recommendations related to enhanced workplace safety, addressing the cultural competency of specialist workers, and improvements to training and education, as well as recommendations related to law reform.

I am pleased to advise that, of these 24 recommendations, the ACT government has agreed to 13, has agreed in principle to nine and noted one. The remaining recommendation, being recommendation 23, relates to law reform. It consists of a further 18 sub-recommendations. The ACT government has agreed to the majority of these. The report is clear that the recommendations will need to be implemented across multiple sectors, over an extended period of time, as part of a phased-in reform program.

The first step in this phased reform program will be to identify where the immediate priorities lie and to ensure that a coordinated response across government takes place. To support this outcome being achieved, the ACT government will appoint a Coordinator-General for the Prevention of Sexual Violence, in accordance with recommendation 24 of the report. The functions of the coordinator-general will be to provide strategic leadership, whole-of-government collaboration and the coordination of the ACT government’s response to the reforms. As this work progresses, this role will not only work across government but also consult broadly with stakeholders to inform priorities during the phased implementation. The advice of the coordinator-general will inform an annual ministerial statement, to be delivered in the Assembly, that will reflect our progress and achievements and hold us to account for our actions over time.

I am pleased to note that the private member’s bill presented by Dr Paterson MLA to reform the laws in relation to consent recently passed in the Assembly, on 5 May 2022. The bill delivers on recommendation 22 of the report by introducing an affirmative and communicative model of consent in the ACT. I additionally commend the private member’s bill presented by Ms Elizabeth Lee MLA last year on stealthing. I strongly welcome these improvements to our law, and other legislative reforms that will be achieved as a result of the government’s response to the report.

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